DRAFT PICKS: The perfect temperature to drink beer
As summer slowly but surely heats up, folks start cooling their beers down and stocking the fridges.
There really is nothing better than a good cold beer after mowing a dry backyard or putting up the first cutting of hay.
In the past, I’ve had a good number or readers complain that I seem to suggest a more English appreciation for ale, (at room temperature), while discounting the good ol’ American tradition of serving beer as cold as you possible can, (without it being a slushy!), and in a frosty glass.
A number of points, gentle reader.
A) Beer is a highly individualized drink. If you like it with beer slush floating around in the glass, who am I to cast aspersions! But you need to know, in very general terms - the colder the beer, the more limited or muted the taste will be. That isn’t my opinion. It is simple chemistry. Still, cool your beer as much or little as you wish.
B) The English generally speaking DO NOT drink beer at room temperature. They drink some of their brews at cellar temperature. There is a big difference. Cellar stored beers may be a bit less cold than many of the beers sold at watering holes in the U.S., but they are not warm.
I’m not the beer police, but if you’re already making the effort to enjoy good beer the way the brewers kinda hope you will, it is almost never in an ice-cold frosty mug.
I’m just saying.
So ...how should craft beer be served?
The good folks at RateBeer have created a pretty simple guide.
Their suggestions are as follows:
• Very cold (32-39F): Any beer you don’t actually want to taste. Pale Lager, Malt Liquor, Canadian-style Golden Ale and Cream Ale, Low Alcohol, Canadian, American or Scandinavian-style Cider.
• Cold (39-45F): Hefeweizen, Kristalweizen, Kölsch, Premium Lager, Pilsner, Classic German Pilsner, Fruit Beer, brewpub-style Golden Ale, European Strong Lager, Berliner Weisse, Belgian White, American Dark Lager, sweetened Fruit Lambics and Gueuzes, Duvel-types
• Cool (45-54F): American Pale Ale, Amber Ale, California Common, Dunkelweizen, Sweet Stout, Stout, Dry Stout, Porter, English-style Golden Ale, unsweetened Fruit Lambics and Gueuzes, Faro, Belgian Ale, Bohemian Pilsner, Dunkel, Dortmunder/Helles, Vienna, Schwarzbier, Smoked, Altbier, Tripel, Irish Ale, French or Spanish-style Cider
• Cellar (54-57F): Bitter, Premium Bitter, Brown Ale, India Pale Ale, English Pale Ale, English Strong Ale, Old Ale, Saison, Unblended Lambic, Flemish Sour Ale, Bière de Garde, Baltic Porter, Abbey Dubbel, Belgian Strong Ale, Weizen Bock, Bock, Foreign Stout, Zwickel/Keller/Landbier, Scottish Ale, Scotch Ale, American Strong Ale, Mild, English-style Cider
• Warm (57-61F): Barley Wine, Abt/Quadrupel, Imperial Stout, Imperial/Double IPA, Doppelbock, Eisbock, Mead.
Once again, these are suggestions, but they are suggestions by the folks who really know.
Beers are brewed in certain conditions, and for certain conditions. It really isn’t that difficult to get them settled and well-drinkable at a specific temperature.
You don’t need a dedicated beer cellar to cool your beer. Just a little thought.
Enjoy this week’s offerings. I did!
Loons’ Summer Ale
Tri-City Brewing Company
Loons is a fun offering out of Tri-City Brewing located in Bay City. It pours a classic crisp, almost totally clear yellow - a glass of gold. There is a very healthy head that settles back into itself relatively quickly. There is little or no lacing left behind.
The first whiff of Loons is an honest testimony as to what is coming - sweet maltiness with some well defined fruit aromas.
The light citrus and lighter fruit combinations - ripe apples and pears with just a touch of molasses or brown sugar is ever so inviting and even more promising.
The first sip offers up a subtle maltiness and a moderately sweet combination of gentle flavors first introduced in the scenting. Although one might have expected a bit more assertive fruitiness, the tastes are more muted and quiet - which I found delightful.
This isn’t a overly fruity brew. There seems to be a touch of honey taste well in the background, but Loons is not demonstratively sweet in the least. The almost biscuity malts hold their own and balance off the brew quite well.
Loons was a nicely bodied drink, (moderate in mouth-feel.) It is a touch more carbonated than I usually like, but less fizzy than most ‘industrial’ beers in the coolers.
I like this beer. I generally like American Blonde Ales. For those waiting for a full-bodied beer, jam-packed full of aroma and competing flavors - this may not answer the bill. But for those looking for a subtle, quiet, and refreshing brew, Loons could well fit the ticket.
It certainly is good with almost any ball park-style food - hotdogs and the like.
Undercover Investigation Shut-down
Lagunitas Brewing Company
As opposed to the Loon’s Summer Ale, there is nothing subtle about Undercover whatsoever.
At first sip of this American Strong Ale, it pretty much kicks you in the teeth! Undercover pours a deep bronze color with sparkling red highlights. I got quite a bit of foamy head, but it drifted away pretty quickly leaving about a quarter inch that actually lasted a good while.
You know you’re getting into something special - or at least something adventurous - when you lean into your first sniff. The aromas are complex and almost complicated. One the one hand, Undercover is quite fruity to the nose. On the other hand, there is a well-defined herbal evergreen scent to this hoppy brew. There is a hint of smokiness as well - something I always appreciate in a well-designed ale.
The fruitiness and the more earthy tones really blend quite well if you spend a little more time sniffing this out than you might usually do.
With the first mouthful, there is little question this is going to be an exploration. The more herbal, almost astringent hoppiness shows up prominently and with a punch. A certain sense of fruitiness carries over from the scenting, and there are hints of yeast and maltiness in the background, but this is hoppy, hoppy, hoppy.
Despite the brew having a good bit of muscle - 9.70 percent ABV- there is very little ‘heat.’ The herbal hoppiness and attendant citrusy tastes carries on through the last sip. This is a most refreshing, and even cleansing drink - in the best of ways. I’m a malt-forward drinker, but I found Undercover exciting in its balanced hoppiness.
This is something ...special. Oddly enough, while I may not keep a bottle or two tucked away in the fridge, I certainly do recommend giving it a try. I picked up this Lagunitas offering at the Willow Tree in Cadillac.